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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 4 Hansard (17 March) . . Page.. 1168..


MR STANHOPE: The prison has been funded. Ten million dollars has been appropriated. The government has always been open about the fact that the prison was costed in 2003 terms.

Mr Smyth: So you don't know the answer?

MR STANHOPE: I just said, as I said at estimates, that the department of justice is currently negotiating with Treasury about an appropriate escalator. We have not started construction yet. We have now let the contract for design. What I do know is that the press release released by Mr Stefaniak after estimates-it may have been written actually before estimates; I do not think he was particularly interested in the answer or the explanation-goes to the incoming government brief, the brief of course that the Liberal Party never received, as I was explaining yesterday, a brief that was never received by the Liberal Party because they did not actually win the election. I hesitate to suggest that I apologise to the public service, but I have always had this sneaking suspicion-

Mrs Burke: An apology! Very good. I hope the public servants heard that.

MR STANHOPE: I do apologise to the public service for the suggestion yesterday that-it might even be the incoming brief from the election before-I think they took the odds to the fact that they were not going to need an incoming government brief for the Liberal Party. I think they knew, as we all did, despite, of course-

Mr Smyth: So you are accusing them of being negligent?

MR STANHOPE: You forget that ACT public servants, knowing particularly Mr Mulcahy's view that they are overpaid, voted as if their lives depended on it, along with everybody else, because they know what you think about them. They know you think they are overpaid. They know you will cut their wages and their work conditions if you get the chance.

Bushfires-coronial inquest

MR SESELJA: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Attorney-General. Attorney, did you seek advice about the possible scope of a coronial inquest into the bushfires before considering your options for inquiries into the 2003 bushfires? If so, did any of the agencies advising you about the legal requirements of the coroner's inquest into the 2003 bushfires advise you that the coroner might not have the legal power to inquire into issues beyond the cause and origin of the bushfires?

MR STANHOPE: I would have to check whether or not I received formal advice. I know I engaged in conversations and consultations with officers and officials in relation to the inquest. They have been referred to in this place before and have been the subject of questions and answers in the Assembly. I have absolutely no recollection; I am sure it is the case that at no stage was I advised that the coroner would be constrained in her capacity to inquire into all aspects of the disaster that befell Canberra on 18 January.

It was always the government's expectation and intention that it be a broad, full and free-ranging inquiry into all aspects of the fire. As Mrs Kate Carnell indicated this


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